Janet M. Johnson combines a rare blend of accounting, business and non-profit board experience with many years as a commercial real estate lawyer in her role as a trusted advisor to clients seeking to maximize the return on their investments in commercial real estate. When working with closely-held businesses and non-profits, she focuses on understanding how the real estate asset is used in their businesses and operations in order to accomplish their corporate goals and mission.
For companies leasing their space, she focuses on the dollars and cents part of the lease term, including those that will cost the tenant money in the long run. These issues include operating expense pass-throughs, repairs and maintenance, and insurance and indemnification obligations. Janet brings knowledge gained from years of speaking and writing on the subject of a landlord’s duties and obligations in commercial leases.
Janet pays close attention to the health of client’s business or organization as a whole. In addition to real estate matters, she counsels clients on corporate structuring, corporate governance, general business, real estate and family ownership or related business income tax matters. She also guides nonprofits on corporate governance and issues associated with unrelated business taxable income from real estate investments and development or redevelopment of unused or underutilized real estate assets.
For non-profit clients seeking to maximize their income from underutilized real estate, ground leases have long been a vehicle of choice in which Janet has years of experience. Negotiating a ground lease that will be financeable for the lessee, and yet provide the lessor with the controls it desires over the nature and use of the leased parcel has been an area of concentration by Janet during most of her career.
Where zoning and other entitlements are needed to develop a real estate project, Janet’s experience in zoning and annexation matters in the suburban area Chicago allows her to focus with the client on what aspects of the client’s project or business will provide the compelling reason for a municipality to approve their plans. When the situation requires, Janet works closely with colleagues in the Construction practice of Schiff Hardin to develop successful strategies for her clients. Projects have included condominiums, hotels, retail centers, office buildings, senior housing projects and other types of commercial, mixed-use and educational institution projects.
When it comes to financing or purchasing or selling real estate assets, Janet’s experience in representing borrowers, lenders, purchasers and sellers allows her to understand what is driving the other side in order to forge compromise positions that will enable the deal to get done.
- Janet represented a major insurance company in the acquisition of a downtown Chicago Loop office building, and now is involved in leasing and other issues associated with its ownership.
- Janet represented a major Chicago-area nonprofit in developing more than 500 acres of land, including implementation of a master plan through ground leases for residential, commercial, and office uses.
- She represented a religious entity seeking annexation and zoning for its existing campus and future expansion, including right to obtain municipal sewer and water service to permit the construction of an additional building and a new parking lot. As part of that project, she represented the entity in the public hearings before the Plan Commission and Village Board, negotiated the annexation agreement and an agreement by which the religious entity would be entitled to recapture a portion of the costs it incurred in extending the municipality’s water and sewer lines thousands of feet through an adjoining property, as well as the easement agreement through that property. She also represented the entity in acquiring smaller adjoining properties for future expansion.
- University of Iowa College of Law, J.D., 1980
- University of Iowa, B.B.A., 1974
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